Do you feel like you’re always getting colds, skin rashes, headaches, fatigue or sinus infections? Well, maybe you need to do a cleanse that focuses on boosting your immune system, so your body can defend itself better from bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. A good time to start thinking about boosting your immune system is before flu season comes around, or before any airplane travel.
Our immune system is supposed to protect us from these everyday illnesses, but our lifestyle choices can weaken this protective shield, leaving us vulnerable to disease and infections. A lot of the food we ingest is man-made, processed junk that put stress on your body and immune system. We should really be focusing on fresh, natural food. By cleansing out some bad lifestyle habits and junk food you can have your body fighting off every germ that comes your way!
Here are a few foods to eat and foods to avoid while you’re doing an immune system cleanse. Remember to be realistic – cutting out 100 percent of the bad stuff is probably not going to happen! However, if you try to stick to the plan for 2 weeks and work out a diet and lifestyle that work for you, then you’ll start to see some real improvements to your health.
Immune System Suppressors
These are the foods and lifestyle choices that actually weaken your immune system.
Alcohol and Coffee
Both alcohol and coffee lower the amount of white blood cells in your bloodstream. This weakens your body’s defenses against illness. They also impair the body’s absorption of vital nutrients, weakening the body and making it more susceptible to illness.
Cigarettes contain arsenic, cadmium, formaldehyde, to name just a few of the toxic chemicals that enter your system whenever you light up. All of these will impair your immune function – irritated lungs are much more vulnerable to infection.
Too much sugar can also suppress your immune system. Avoid sugar, honey, syrup, chocolate, and check labels for anything ending in “ose”. Avoid white flour and white flour products too – they affect the immune system in much the same way.
If you have a sweet tooth, you might think this is going to be an impossible task, but stick to it for a coupe of weeks and your cravings will go away. You can have a piece of fruit to curb your craving, but stay away from artificial sweeteners as they are very toxic, even worse than sugar.
Trans fats are very toxic, damaging to your body and will certainly weaken your immune system. The main culprits are foods like cookies, cakes, donuts, pizza, fried chicken and most fast foods. When you’re shopping for food, be careful of shortening, margarine, cereal and cereal bars. But remember – the only sure way to avoid eating trans fats is to read labels!
How to Boost Your Immune System
When you have a cold people will often tell you to get some sleep, and its true that adequate rest is one of the most important factors in a healthy immune system. That’s why we feel so tired when we get sick. When we sleep, our immune system repairs and rebuilds, ready and armed to fight off all those germs that we encounter throughout the day. Don’t rest only when you get ill – try to aim for a consistent 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Research has shown that getting 30 minutes of vitamin D from sunlight or daylight strengthens the immune system to fight off disease. Don’t go overboard though. Sunlight is great for your health but you shouldn’t put your skin at risk for skin cancer.
This is an unconventional technique for boosting blood circulation. Skin brushing stimulates the immune cells to move more rapidly throughout your body and also helps carry toxins out of the body.
Exercise stimulates your lymphatic system, which helps fight germs and remove toxins. It also increases oxygen in the body and raises your body temperature, both of which play important roles in boosting immunity. Over-exercising can actually suppress the immune system though, so don’t go overboard.
To boost your immune system, it is important to eat a variety of whole foods. However, there is a small group of foods that you should put particular emphasis on.
Fruits and Vegetables
These immune boosters contain antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, all important for keeping your immune system in order and your body free from disease. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables will nourish your body, however there are some that are super immune fighting.
Try to include a serving or 2 of these super immune-boosting fruits and vegetables every day. Here are the ones that are highest in vitamin C:
- Citrus fruits
- Bell peppers
- Brussel sprouts
Make sure you get enough of this immune boosting antioxidant. The best sources include lean meats, poultry, nuts, beans, grains, fortified cereals and leafy greens.
This is a strong antioxidant which boosts your immune system and can even fight cancer. Beta carotene converts to vitamin A. Sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, cantaloupe, squash.
Garlic contains an antimicrobial compound, Allicin, which encourages the multiplication of germ-fighting white blood cells. Studies have shown that people who consume garlic supplements, or consume garlic everyday, suffer from significantly fewer flus and colds. Two minced cloves of fresh garlic per day, either with food or mixed with water, should do the trick.
Lean meats contain Zinc, which plays a big role in activating the white blood cells that fight bacteria and viruses. Good sources include oysters, beans, turkey, lamb, eggs, fortified cereals, nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin seeds).
All meat and eggs that you buy should be organic, to avoid unnecessary toxins like pesticides. Only eat wild-caught fish, and also avoid large fish that contain high levels of Mercury (e.g. shark, swordfish, tilefish, albacore and king mackerel).
Yogurt contains beneficial bacteria that populate the intestine and prevent fungal infection. Studies have shown plain yogurt stimulates the immune system and improves overall health. Make sure you buy plain yogurt though – the sugar in most yogurt brands will actually suppress your immune system.
Green tea contains a compound named EGCG, a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from cancer. Green tea also has powerful anti-bacterial properties, helps to control dental plaque, stimulates your immune system cells and helps to fight off infection.
Staying constantly hydrated will ensure your body’s waste fluids are removed quickly and efficiently. Be sure to drink lots of water throughout the day, a glass every hour if possible.